Magazine article Insight on the News

Anti-Mob Laws for Bill?

Magazine article Insight on the News

Anti-Mob Laws for Bill?

Article excerpt

Where next for Alfonse D'Amato, the Republican senator from New York? His Whitewater inquiry has at last broken through the reluctance of the network-news programs to mention the Clintons' Ozark land deal and other suspicious Arkansas dealings.

Under pressure from the relentless focus of D'Amato and his committee counsel Mike Chertoff, the first family and their aides appear to be stonewalling, a situation magnified by the sudden miraculous discovery of supposedly missing Whitewater documents.

As news alert! goes to press, there was much anticipation in Washington about how D'Amato would structure forthcoming hearings to explore the first lady's billing records that show she did more than minimal work for a thrift owned by the Clintons' business partner James B. McDougal.

On a broader front, D'Amato and Chertoff are considering whether they should bring into play that most muscular of antimobster laws, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO.

The administration and its supporters will, no doubt, raise an outery, if the committee decides to go down that route and urge Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr to employ RICO. But Hill sources say there is an active discussion about the merits of using RICO as a vehicle to shatter what D'Amato and other Republicans see as a concerted White House-led Arkansas conspiracy of silence and obstruction. "Look at Chertoff's prosecutorial background," says a congressional staffer.

Indeed, Chertoff knows RICO, having used it to become one of the most successful U.S. attorneys in the nation's history. As both an assistant U.S. attorney in New York under Rudolph Giuliani, now the city's mayor, and a full U.S. attorney in New Jersey, Chertoff wielded RICO to break up America's most powerful mob families. In the legendary Commission case of 1986, the gaunt and intense Chertoff succeeded in convincing a jury to convict the bosses of the Genovese, Colombo and Lucchese families, as well as a "capo" of the Bonanno family, of an illegal racketeering enterprise.

In the Garden State, likewise, Chertoff had tremendous RICO successes. He was behind a settlement of a civil racketeering suit geared to remove the mob from an Atlantic City union local. Chertoff also hit the Genovese family again in a 1989 trial. …

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